Today’s post is a nostalgic look back at the delicious meals I have enjoyed during my 10 trips to Japan. (The list is in no particular order. Trying to pick just 10 meals was hard enough, ranking them would be nearly impossible!) Most of these foods were not fancy, just quick bites grabbed at mom-and-pop shops or even chain restaurants. I would happily enjoy any of these meals again, and indeed these are spots that I go back to time and time again. Here’s wishing for lots more yummy meals in travels to come!!
#1 – Bento Lunch Box in the Park (Kyoto, Japan)
I bought this boxed lunch in Kyoto Station, and then walked to the nearby Umekoji Park. I found a bench where I could watch the dolphin show from the backside of the Kyoto Aquarium. It was unexpectedly tranquil and deserted.
#2 – Japanese Cafeteria-Style Lunch (Akashi, Japan)
At this chain restaurant, you can choose from a variety of freshly prepared dishes to construct the perfect meal.
#3 – Luxurious $6 “Fruit Royal” Cake from Takano (Tokyo, Japan)
During my past trip to Tokyo, my brother and I ventured into Tokyu Food Show for dinner one night. We got lost in the basement of the Tokyo Department store, exploring the maze-like underground floor of delicious foods stands. We capped our amazingly yummy meal with a slice of “Fruit Royal” cake from Takano, a well-regarded fruit seller in Japan (known for their $200+ melons). As we unwrapped the cake, we both snapped photographs like the cake was a celebrity. We joked that it must look like we had never seen cake before. But honestly, have you ever seen a cake this beautiful? You will just have to take my word that it was pretty fabulously delicious too.
Plus 2 minutes later…
#4 – Lunch Box at Cafe Ageha (Kobe, Japan)
#5 – Burger at The Smile Burger (Tokyo, Japan)
To be honest… I am usually not a big burger fan. I eat maybe one burger a year, and I am satisfied. But this burger was amazing from top to bottom. The patty was juicy; the lettuce crisp; and the fries perfectly fried. Even the bun did not disappoint! Usually the bun is a sad afterthought, just a vehicle for carrying the burger patty. This bun was a masterpiece in its own right – shatteringly crisp on the outside and pleasantly chewy inside. If you missed it, I wrote an entire blog post praising the wonders of this burger.
#6 – Grilled Sanma Fish (Kusatsu, Japan)
I am lucky that I usually visit Japan in the late summer, which is the perfect season to enjoy crispy, fatty, fishy sanma. My friend treated me to dinner at her favorite bar, where we were served one of the best sanma I have ever eaten!
#7 – Kid’s Meal (Kobe, Japan)
Okay, so I did not actually get to eat this meal but I wish I could have! This beautiful wooden boxed meal is a kid’s dinner in Japan. It came for my boyfriend’s 3-year nephew, while the rest of us enjoyed a 5-course meal made entirely from tofu. I appreciate the care given to food in Japan, even food intended for a child.
#8 – Tuna Fish, Cottage Cheese, and Avocado Sandwich at eFish Cafe (Kyoto, Japan)
This is my favorite cafe in Kyoto. And this is my favorite sandwich to order there. The cafe sits perched over Kamo River, providing peaceful views and a cool breeze in the summer.
#9 – Grilled Chicken Yakitori (Moriya, Japan)
Several years ago, I visited Kosuke while he was in Japan training at the headquarters of the company where he works. Everyday, riding our bikes from the train station to our apartment, we passed this tiny yakitori restaurant. (Yakitori is basically street food. All different parts of the chicken – from skin to joints to various innards – are grilled and doused in sweet salty sauce.) Whenever we passed, a cloud of greasy smoke would engulf us. We kept promising that we would stop for dinner and finally on one of our last nights in Moriya, we did. This place did not disappoint. We left full and satisfied and reeking of smoke.
#10 – Chilled Hiyashi Chuka Ramen (Kyoto, Japan)
During a meltingly hot summer in Japan, a billboard advertising cool refreshing ramen drew me into this restaurant. These chilled noodles topped with fresh veggies and a savory sesame dressing cooled my body down, while filling my tummy. The perfect summer meal!
Thanks for reading! What are your favorite Japanese foods? Leave any questions or comments below.